18 January 2010

American Made

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. - Mohandas Gandhi

Twelve years ago in Nashville, Tennessee, I listened to an elderly African American woman, a guest lecturer from predominately black Fisk University, speak about America at predominately white Belmont University.

Her invitation to speak was significant because it was the first year Belmont relented and agreed to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I’ve forgotten the woman’s name, but one thing she said changed my worldview, profoundly.

She stepped onto the speaker’s platform, grabbed the corners of the podium, and from behind her bifocals slowly surveyed the students from both universities ... then she said: "African American history is
American history … "

In the context of the rest of her speech, she was saying that all Americans, white Americans, too, have a claim on the Civil Rights movement.

What she said meant I could listen to Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches with pride and not with a slight tinge of shame. It meant I could resist the urge to be defensive. It ultimately meant I had an alternate heritage I could claim, if I chose.

The Civil Rights movement was not a movement for African American rights. It was a movement for Human Rights. And we are all human, right?


It is well known that Dr. King predicted his death shortly before his assassination.

Below, listen to an excerpt from his last speech, listen to how he talks about his Creator, look at his eyes, look at how he collapses in his chair at the end of the speech.

What you will see is American history,
it is our history, it is your history, too.


  1. Melanie SmithJanuary 17, 2010

    He looks like a man who was truly filled with the Holy Spirit of peace & contentment in his love for God his Father, Our Father :) May we all feel the uplifting words straight to our own hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to fill our actions & lives to the point God may use us like he used Martin Luther King Jr.

  2. He was a man like all men -- hopeful, sinful, striving, broken. And the Lord used him in a mighty way.

  3. Well said, Big Russ!


  4. If there is a tragedy in today's holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, it is that most people will enjoy a day off work and not know what a truly great man the world was privileged to meet.

  5. i agree with glynn. martin allowed himself to be used by God. and God used him, just as he was.

    it is good to remember martin and how he struggled for the message of people to love one another.

    history for all.

  6. Melanie, Glynn, PETER!, Anne, nAncy ... Thank you so much for commenting ... :-)